Who: Michigan (3-2) vs. Boston College (4-2)
This one feels far too important for a December game but it’s hard to downplay the importance of tonight’s game versus Boston College.
The last match-up between these two teams was only two years ago. Boston College marched into Crisler Arena for the only 7th game of John Beilein’s tenure in Ann Arbor. Michigan wasn’t supposed to be good and was coming off a disappointing stretch of games in Alaska, but that 13 point home loss to the Eagles set the tone for the season.
Tyrese Rice scorched the Wolverines, scoring 28 points (thanks to a 67% eFG%) and adding 8 rebounds and 5 assists for good measure. Meanwhile, the Maize Rage peppered him with “BUM BUM BUM” chants. Oops.
Luckily, Tyrese Rice is gone and both programs look significantly different today. That’s not to say there aren’t enough familiar faces to remember the last meeting between these two teams. Rakim Sanders (injured), Tyler Roche, and Corey Raji all played significant roles in the last meeting while Joe Trapani nearly transferred to Michigan and starting center Josh Southern is a Saginaw native.
It’s still a bit early to look at KenPom data but Boston College’s statistical profile appears to be taking shape. The Eagles have been strong on offense, scoring 1.17 points per possession. They have shot the ball well (52.5% eFG), held onto it (18.3 TO%), and crashed the glass with an impressive 43.4% offensive rebounding percentage. The major concern for Michigan is that not only can the Eagles shoot the ball (75% of their shots come inside the arc), they crash the glass very well. The bad news for Michigan is that their glaring weaknesses on defense, two point defense and defensive rebounding, correlate with Boston College’s strengths.
Boston College is much less formidable on the defensive side of the ball. The strongest elements of their defense are defensive rebounding and keeping opponents off the free throw line. There are a couple bright spots for Michigan. First, they shouldn’t have much trouble holding onto the ball, the Eagles force fewer turnovers than any high major program in the country. Second, Boston College has struggled to defend the three point shot, allowing opponents to shoot 36.4% from behind the arc.
Boston College’s biggest problem is their growing injury list. Joe Trapani is still recovering from the flu, leading returning scorer Rakim Sanders is sidelined with a high ankle sprain, and Tyler Roche is questionable with a back injury.
It appears that Trapani (15.8 ppg and 7.5 rpg) is going to give it a go and play. He is the go to guy for the Eagles and a threat to post a double double on any night. His supporting cast is highlighted by a pair of wings; Reggie Jackson (14.5ppg, 8rpg, 5apg) and Corey Raji (14.5ppg, 8rpg, 5apg). The man in the middle is Saginaw product Josh Southern who has developed into a nice player, averaging 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
The names on the jerseys don’t really matter with Al Skinner. You can count on a well coached team that knows how to execute Al Skinner’s compressed flex offense to perfection. Boston College struggled in their preseason tournament, losing to St Joseph’s and Northern Iowa but I expect them to be ready to play tonight. That means that Michigan is in for a challenge.
If Michigan doesn’t improve significantly on defense and start to hit some shots, they could be looking at a three game losing streak.
Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Big Ten/ACC Challenge is all squared up at 3 going into Wednesday’s games. The other four games tomorrow night include Duke/Wisconsin, FSU/OSU, Illinois/Clemson, and Miami/Minnesota. Needing three wins to take the Challenge, it appears that Michigan, Ohio State, and Minnesota are the best bets for the Big Ten’s first victory.
- For Smotrycz and BC, the fit just wasn’t right
Boston Globe profile of Evan Smotrycz
- Holy Smokes! Rollin Out of Raleigh – ‘Cats Down NC State 65-53
Huge win for the Coble-less Wildcats. I didn’t see it coming, is this team legit come Big Ten time?
- Michigan basketball forward DeShawn Sims says his role is changing
I am all for it, but let’s see it.
- Prospect of the Week: Ekpe Udoh
Ekpe Udoh having a monster season
- VIDEO: Michigan forward DeShawn Sims dissects his performance over the past week
- VIDEO: Michigan basketball coach John Beilein breaks down Boston College and forward Joe Trapani
A couple AnnArbor.com videos
- Oh, What a (Horrific) Night: North Carolina 89, Michigan State 82
That first half seemed like déjà vu.